Lughnasadh – First harvest of the season

Plucked from Wiki Commons. Corn Dolly made in the image of Lugh by someone simply known as Mountainash333.

Late summer/early fall is a great time to hold outdoor fairs and festivals. My small town of 33,000 just celebrated Jubilee Days. The festivities included, among other things, a fairway, street dances, rodeos, a chili cookoff, and a farmer’s market. On August 4th, the town will host a fair called Arts in the Park where artists will be able to display and sell their creations. There will also be food vendors and live music.

Who cares?

Most Pagans would get the connection right away.

Lughnasadh is celebrated on August 1st/2nd in the northern hemisphere. It’s the first of three harvest celebrations. Apples are ripe and ready for picking. Corn and other grains are ready to be harvested. In many homes the smell of fresh baked bread fills the air. The days are slowly getting shorter and the nights are growing cooler.

When I first started practicing, I learned that we honor the god Lugh during the festival of Lughnasadh. Lugh is the Celtic god of craftsmen and artists. He was also called the “Shining One” and was associated with the sun.

Because of his association with the sun without which crops wouldn’t grow, it isn’t inappropriate to honor him during this time of year. However, after I did a little more research, I think including a nod toward his foster mother, Tailtiu, should also be included.

Tailtiu was the last queen of the Fir Bolg and a goddess of the land. Her people suffered a terrible defeat at the hands of the Tuatha de Danaan and she was taken captive. Tailtiu died from exhaustion after she was forced to clear a large swath of forest so grain could be planted to feed her people.

Lugh was so distraught by these events that he buried his foster mother beneath a great mound and enacted a day of celebration to honor her life and the sacrifice she made to feed her people.  A great festival complete with feasts, artists and craftsmen selling their wares, and games was held, during which the first crops of the season were dedicated in her honor.

Without even realizing it, the little town I live in has been participating in a traditionally Pagan celebration for years. Nobody said there had to be a ritual involved in every Pagan celebration. In fact, apparently there doesn’t even have to be Pagans.